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ColoradoGuy
03-16-2009, 07:42 AM
I've been reading a recent review in a medical journal called Primary Care Clinics entitled "Role of the Social Milieu in Health and Wellness." It reviews what's known about the relationship between health, spirituality (by which they appear to mean religious observance, although I disagree with that), economic status, and educational level. It's long been known that poor people get sicker more often and die sooner than do rich people, but the interesting aspects of the article to me were about religion and spirituality. I can't link the article because you need a subscription, but I have a pdf file of it I'll gladly send to anybody who's interested. Here are some highlights:

A study of 21,000 adults showed that persons who never attended any religious exercises at all had a 19-fold higher risk of death over the 8 year period of the study.
A meta-analysis (a way of combining many studies) of both Judeo-Christian and Eastern traditions showed decreased levels of stress hormones and harmful blood cholesterol, as well as overall improved health.
Meditation (which need not be a religious exercise, of course) causes increases of useful neurotransmitters in the brain.In fairness, several studies showed negative stress effects for religious observances that were characterized by heavy criticism of those who deviated from strict practices -- no surprise there.

The question is, of course, what precisely is this "religion" being studied? Here are the authors' conclusions:

"A straightforward explanation of religionís health effects might be as simple as religious participation encouraging better health habits, social support, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. Spirituality is negatively correlated with drug use. Stress or, more accurately, an individual perception of stress has a significant impact on health through modulation of cardiovascular and immune system primarily through alteration of the sympathetic nervous system. Religious or spiritual beliefs and practices are related to well-being, hope, optimism, purpose, meaning, and social support. Through reduction in stress perception, spiritual practices result in reduction in heart disease, hypertension, morbidity, and mortality and improve immune and endocrine function."

Ruv Draba
03-16-2009, 05:30 PM
There have been a lot of these studies (e.g. here (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990517064323.htm) and here (http://longevity.about.com/od/longevityboosters/a/religion_life.htm)). Usually what is being counted is attendance at religious services -- though what is measured may have nothing to do with the root cause of differences. One such study says that if you're African-American, regular church attendance is a predictor of much greater longevity improvement than if you're an Anglo-American -- which makes me wonder whether insulation from disadvantage may not be one of the key benefits here.

Please note too that there are other studies to show that pet-owners live longer (http://www.preciouspets.org/newsletters/articles/healthbenefits.htm), married people live longer (http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB5018/index1.html), and that moderate drinkers and gardeners (http://hamaraphotos.com/health/news/daily-tipple-and-gardening-boost-longevity.html) live longer.

I think that the emerging picture is quite a complex one, but perhaps our prolonged health benefits from companionship, community, exercise, relaxation, moderate indulgences, comfort, reassurance and a sense of purpose. And perhaps too, strong social networks help to protect us from our worse personal crises and some of our personal excesses.

As a secular humanist I can only applaud the fellowship and support so often shown in sectarian institutions. I must also wonder whether the health benefits of religion would be much different without all the mythic dogma -- given that poodles, roses and the odd glass of tokay give freely of their benefits without asking for your belief.

Or maybe my grandmother has the right of it. Now 93 and agnostic, she was once an organist with the Anglican church, but fell out with them because of some ignorant and intolerant behaviour by the church leaders. As she's put it, 'You don't actually live longer if you do what the ministers tell you. It just feels longer'.

Higgins
03-16-2009, 06:27 PM
It reviews what's known about the relationship between health, spirituality (by which they appear to mean religious observance, although I disagree with that), economic status, and educational level.

I imagine that if you looked at a population that practiced Yoga intensely you would find they lived longer and better than most of mankind, even if they only have a BA and an excessive amount of cash. Anyway, that is my firm belief or at least my fond hope.

I should also add that I am a diligent observer (wait...if we meta-analyzed all diligent observers) of any rituals I come across...

PLUS...I played basketball for my soul one time. As you might expect, it was a "near sudden death" experience. Both players (God's representative and the meat-analyzed personage in the "study" or just me) came out covered with blood: I won.

Monkey
03-16-2009, 09:01 PM
As a married, pet-owning, religious gardener, I'm liking these studies very much, thanks. :D


I think that the emerging picture is quite a complex one, but perhaps our prolonged health benefits from companionship, community, exercise, relaxation, moderate indulgences, comfort, reassurance and a sense of purpose. And perhaps too, strong social networks help to protect us from our worse personal crises and some of our personal excesses.

Agreed.

TerzaRima
03-16-2009, 11:00 PM
A meta-analysis (a way of combining many studies) of both Judeo-Christian and Eastern traditions showed decreased levels of stress hormones and harmful blood cholesterol, as well as overall improved health.


Could religious observance be correlated with medical compliance--in other words, is there something intrinsic to the people who reliably attend church/temple/mosque that makes them more likely to follow medical recommendations?

Ruv Draba
03-16-2009, 11:20 PM
Could religious observance be correlated with medical compliance--in other words, is there something intrinsic to the people who reliably attend church/temple/mosque that makes them more likely to follow medical recommendations?Religious observance is linked to Myers-Briggs personality types, which links to just about everything else too -- including how we eat, how we exercise, how we learn, what tasks we enjoy or don't. However, I don't know of any study that predicts longevity based on personality type.

Lyv
03-18-2009, 06:29 AM
This might be of interest:

Patients with strong faith more likely to get aggressive end-of- life care (http://www.boston.com/news/health/blog/2009/03/post_18.html)


The patients who leaned the most heavily on their faith were nearly three times more likely to choose and receive more aggressive care near death, such as mechanical ventilators to breathe for them or cardiopulmonary resuscitation to revive them when their hearts stopped beating. They were less likely to have advanced care planning in place, such as do-not-resuscitate orders, living wills, and healthcare proxies or power of attorney arrangements so others could speak for them at the end of life.

"These results suggest that relying upon religion to cope with terminal cancer may contribute to receiving aggressive medical care near death," the authors write in tomorrow's Journal of the American Medical Association. "Because aggressive end-of-life cancer care has been associated with poor quality of death and caregiver bereavement adjustment, intensive end-of-life care might represent a negative outcome for religious copers."

There is more to the article.

Higgins
03-18-2009, 05:16 PM
This might be of interest:

Patients with strong faith more likely to get aggressive end-of- life care (http://www.boston.com/news/health/blog/2009/03/post_18.html)



There is more to the article.

So I guess if you are not "religious" you are more likely to accept the natural processes of Life and Death?

Monkey
03-18-2009, 10:04 PM
That certainly seems counter-intuitive.

I feel that I am not my body. If my body is too screwed up to support life, I'm going to ditch it...and once ditched, I don't care what happens to it. I mean, sure, I hope that whatever happens to it doesn't upset my family too much, but if it were, say, eaten by vultures I'd be cool with that. And I hope they would be, too.

I've written a will and talked to people about what I want. No life support if there's not a very good chance I'll recover. If I'm brain dead--or even mostly so--let me go. Donate my organs...and do whatever you want with the rest. My preference is for my body to be buried in a biodegradeable cardboard coffin and to have an oak tree planted over my body.

I would think that I hold these views because of my religious beliefs, not despite them.

Sean D. Schaffer
04-17-2009, 02:27 AM
I think religion can be good for your health IF the said religion is right for you. In my own case, when I followed the ways of my former Pastor, I had no end of stress and condemnation building up in my mind and body. At the present time, I have a heart condition caused by that stress building up over the last three or four decades.

I believe the religion I followed for such a long time was not good for my health. However, when I picked up on the religion I'm participating in now, a lot of my stress levels have been substantially lowered.

Thus, it is my opinion that if a religion or belief is right for you, it would be more beneficial to your health than if it is not. YMMV.

Fulk
04-18-2009, 03:23 AM
This might be of interest:

Patients with strong faith more likely to get aggressive end-of- life care (http://www.boston.com/news/health/blog/2009/03/post_18.html)


The patients who leaned the most heavily on their faith were nearly three times more likely to choose and receive more aggressive care near death, such as mechanical ventilators to breathe for them or cardiopulmonary resuscitation to revive them when their hearts stopped beating.

There is more to the article.

This is peculiar, considering that most of the major religions have a belief in life after death. Why would they cling to their mortal body if it was clearly failing? (Note that I mean this as an honest and well-intentioned question, not as an attempt to be a smartass. It just seems contradictory to what would be expected, in some ways.)

I'm of a similar thought to Ruv: I believe community, comfort, sense of purpose, social interaction, etc. are what provide for a longer, healthier life. All of the studies Ruv cites, such as pet-keeping and gardening, are what I imagine to be very therapeutic, and result in a longer, healthier life. I've even occasionally heard stories where those who got a pet or took part in an activity like gardening have successfully fought off serious illness, such as cancer. Whether there's any validity in those statements, I haven't a clue.

semilargeintestine
04-18-2009, 08:47 PM
I haven't done a study, but in my small experience, those who are fairly religious are less likely to want to hold on to life (or refuse to let a loved one go). I know that's completely in the face of that paper, but I can't think of a time where someone in my family or a friend's family wanted aggressive care.

billadam
07-20-2009, 04:40 PM
A book review in this week's BMJ (p 1043 (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1122981)) examines the link between religion and health or, rather, psychoneuroimmunology and faith. Although unconvinced by any such link, the reviewer concedes that this is an area in which much serious research is being done, and a quick internet search confirms this. What seems the latest trend in a world that feels a deep need for more than just technological and scientific progress may be a revival of historical tradition (in which medicine and religion even had the same proponents), as explained in an analysis assessing prayer, faith, and health (www.davidmyers.org/religion/faith.html (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/redirect3.cgi?&&auth=0F_tAsOfFCSSwyaVsA1qOVd4XCqiv5jFf4V9kSQFz&reftype=extlink&article-id=1122983&issue-id=118371&journal-id=3&FROM=Article%7CBody&TO=External%7CLink%7CURI&rendering-type=normal&&http://www.davidmyers.org/religion/faith.html)).

Shadow_Ferret
07-20-2009, 04:49 PM
I'd be curious if any SCIENTIFIC studies have done with control groups, say Catholics, athiests, Budhists, etc. all with the other factors being identical: education, economics, nutrition, exercise, etc.

That would determine to me the validity of all this.

Because otherwise, I think its just so much hooey.

Higgins
07-20-2009, 06:03 PM
I'd be curious if any SCIENTIFIC studies have done with control groups, say Catholics, athiests, Budhists, etc. all with the other factors being identical: education, economics, nutrition, exercise, etc.

That would determine to me the validity of all this.

Because otherwise, I think its just so much hooey.

Who would fund this research and why? How would you validate the existence of their beliefs? How could their educations be the same?

Ruv Draba
07-21-2009, 01:07 AM
Usually what they do is sample statistically, then check median values and standard deviations for those groups, then do some statistical analyses to see whether there's a variance that can't be explained by other variances in the groups.

I don't think it's hooey to do such analyses but I do think it's hair-splitting. The sort of variances being discussed here fall well short of 'miracle'. People who fear nasty diseases sometimes do turn to religion -- but generally when they or someone they know already have a nasty disease. Alas, there's no shred of credible evidence that such belief prevents or cures nasty diseases, but there's plenty of psychological evidence to show that we turn to superstition when we're profoundly scared.

Higgins
07-21-2009, 04:48 PM
Usually what they do is sample statistically, then check median values and standard deviations for those groups, then do some statistical analyses to see whether there's a variance that can't be explained by other variances in the groups.

I don't think it's hooey to do such analyses but I do think it's hair-splitting. The sort of variances being discussed here fall well short of 'miracle'. People who fear nasty diseases sometimes do turn to religion -- but generally when they or someone they know already have a nasty disease. Alas, there's no shred of credible evidence that such belief prevents or cures nasty diseases, but there's plenty of psychological evidence to show that we turn to superstition when we're profoundly scared.

Studies like this aren't hooey, but they are retrospective observational studies and they use (I would expect) regression to find what factors "predict" where a person ends up on whatever the result variable is. The real problem is what is called "confounding" which is where a variable (such as religion or more exactly checking the religion box on some form) is really reflecting some other behavior (such as being very careful in filling out forms). Perhaps care in filling out forms has a health value and that is what you are really measuring with retrospective observational studies of this kind.

icerose
07-21-2009, 05:32 PM
This might be of interest:

Patients with strong faith more likely to get aggressive end-of- life care (http://www.boston.com/news/health/blog/2009/03/post_18.html)

There is more to the article.

My guess is it's actually opposite of what you would think. They aren't worried about death so they don't think to prepare for it properly, such as signing the DNR. I don't think it would even occur to most people, it didn't occur to my mom though she in no way wants to linger, she's in far too much pain, but she didn't have one signed either when she got Spinal Menegitis and her brain started swelling and landed in a nursing home for a few months. If she had known she was going to get this sick she would have signed it in a heart beat, but it's not like someone just stops at your house and says "Hey, these are important papers, why don't you look over them and have them ready in case of emergency."

Higgins
07-21-2009, 06:14 PM
Studies like this aren't hooey, but they are retrospective observational studies and they use (I would expect) regression to find what factors "predict" where a person ends up on whatever the result variable is. The real problem is what is called "confounding" which is where a variable (such as religion or more exactly checking the religion box on some form) is really reflecting some other behavior (such as being very careful in filling out forms). Perhaps care in filling out forms has a health value and that is what you are really measuring with retrospective observational studies of this kind.


My guess is it's actually opposite of what you would think. They aren't worried about death so they don't think to prepare for it properly, such as signing the DNR. I don't think it would even occur to most people, it didn't occur to my mom though she in no way wants to linger, she's in far too much pain, but she didn't have one signed either when she got Spinal Menegitis and her brain started swelling and landed in a nursing home for a few months. If she had known she was going to get this sick she would have signed it in a heart beat, but it's not like someone just stops at your house and says "Hey, these are important papers, why don't you look over them and have them ready in case of emergency."

Maybe that's more evidence that retrospective observational studies tend to measure behavior in filling out forms more than anything else. So the religious might be very good at checking boxes, but not so good at plans involving future-oriented narratives with multiple contingencies.

Ruv Draba
07-21-2009, 10:09 PM
The real problem is what is called "confounding" which is where a variable (such as religion or more exactly checking the religion box on some form) is really reflecting some other behavior (such as being very careful in filling out forms).Yep. The quality of the survey depends on the quality of the survey questions. That depends in turn on what assumptions the surveyor made and why.

This is no different to laboratory experiments really. Scientists try to isolate all variables other than the ones under test, but the variables they isolate depend on what they think the variables are. Science is full of discoveries of new variables -- like wind-born mold making penicillin, or weird exposures on film showing that rocks sometimes emit X-rays. They don't happen every day, but they happen.

I don't know that this has occurred here though. As an atheist I'm quite happy to believe that religious practice may offer minor health benefits. Why not? Lots of other activities do too. What I'd object to are claims that the benefits come from the magical power of deity X. Against such a claim it's sufficient to point out that deity X has the same healing power as a poodle and a glass of tokay. ;)

mscelina
07-21-2009, 10:12 PM
Religion is great for my health. Churches raise my blood pressure.

Higgins
07-21-2009, 10:57 PM
. As an atheist I'm quite happy to believe that religious practice may offer minor health benefits. Why not? Lots of other activities do too. What I'd object to are claims that the benefits come from the magical power of deity X. Against such a claim it's sufficient to point out that deity X has the same healing power as a poodle and a glass of tokay. ;)

You're assuming the variables are resolvable in uncontrolled studies. They may be, but it is worth speculating about what kinds of things can cause apparent linkages in studies where the data collection is not only not rigorous, but not even collected with the aim of resolving the issue the study addresses.

In fact suppose there is a supernatural healing agency. How would one isolate the impact of this agency? Is there any reason to think the supernatural agency is activated by checking various check boxes? You would have to find a way to be sure that the agency was involved with some particular case and the testimony of the patients seems to be something that would have to be verified somehow. For example, a decent protocol would have to exclude any suggestion that the agency was expected to be at work on the subjects of the study. And it would be best to start with healthy subjects and somehow inform the agency that he/she/it was going to have to work against a placebo or even that some subjects were simply going to pretend to be ill. Could the supernatural agency cure people of pretended illnesses? Surely not a very high bar for an all-powerful being. Perhaps the agency has a pretend mode itself and can pretend to cure people who are pretending to have a disease. That would be a useful finding.

Ruv Draba
07-22-2009, 03:47 AM
suppose there is a supernatural healing agency. How would one isolate the impact of this agency?In fairness, the original article made no magical claims. When these claims are made it's typically not by scientists, but rather by evangelists trying to make political points, often drawing on science or pseudoscience in poorly-understood ways.

But if you wanted to demonstrate miraculous behaviour convincingly then I think you need a miracle that's predicted, specific (in time, place, person or objects involved), dramatic, contra-indicated (i.e. it's the opposite of what we'd expect), repeatable (so you can test what causes it), reliable, independently verifiable and only invoked in response to prayer, ceremony or genuine religious affiliation. There's a fairly good discussion of this here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rqUsC2KsiI&feature=SeriesPlayList&p=4C9012DF955634EA&index=11) and here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qmcOG-na4E&feature=SeriesPlayList&p=4C9012DF955634EA&index=10).

dadburnett
07-22-2009, 11:01 AM
"Is religion good for your health?"
Here in Oregon a jury is debating that question - the religion of the parents prevented them from getting medical help for the child and the child died.
Religion can be a terrible, a deadly thing ...

Ruv Draba
07-22-2009, 01:37 PM
Religion can be a terrible, a deadly thing ...
I've said it in other threads: taboos mess with minds and screw up lives.

Religion is a big source of taboos, but far from the only source.

Higgins
07-22-2009, 04:33 PM
In fairness, the original article made no magical claims. When these claims are made it's typically not by scientists, but rather by evangelists trying to make political points, often drawing on science or pseudoscience in poorly-understood ways.

But if you wanted to demonstrate miraculous behaviour convincingly then I think you need a miracle that's predicted, specific (in time, place, person or objects involved), dramatic, contra-indicated (i.e. it's the opposite of what we'd expect), repeatable (so you can test what causes it), reliable, independently verifiable and only invoked in response to prayer, ceremony or genuine religious affiliation. There's a fairly good discussion of this here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rqUsC2KsiI&feature=SeriesPlayList&p=4C9012DF955634EA&index=11) and here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qmcOG-na4E&feature=SeriesPlayList&p=4C9012DF955634EA&index=10).

I'm not asking for a miracle. I just want a decent protocol. If my research group got the funding we could figure this stuff out pretty fast. For example: dosage. Okay...what is the most powerful form of religious health-induction? Is it lethal at those high dosages? Can we get that at a much lower dose? Is it detectable as being present at that lower dose? I mean you need to be able to calibrate the dosage or how can you even start? We know from early sources that if you just found the Ark of the Covenant just sitting around you would instantly receive a lethal dose of religion (this is after the Ark escaped under its own power from the Temple of Dagon the Fish God). Maybe Religion is better calibrated from Temple of the Fish God levels.
If we had two temples (one of Dagon and one of the God of Placebos) and we had healthy subjects offer sacrifices in each one and we could detect a dose of religion that was different in the two groups then we would be on our way to pinning down the effects of religion on health. If it turns out that it doesn't matter which temple you were in then...we're coming up empty on where to start.

Higgins
07-22-2009, 04:45 PM
I'm not asking for a miracle. I just want a decent protocol. If my research group got the funding we could figure this stuff out pretty fast. For example: dosage. Okay...what is the most powerful form of religious health-induction? Is it lethal at those high dosages? Can we get that at a much lower dose? Is it detectable as being present at that lower dose? I mean you need to be able to calibrate the dosage or how can you even start? We know from early sources that if you just found the Ark of the Covenant just sitting around you would instantly receive a lethal dose of religion (this is after the Ark escaped under its own power from the Temple of Dagon the Fish God). Maybe Religion is better calibrated from Temple of the Fish God levels.
If we had two temples (one of Dagon and one of the God of Placebos) and we had healthy subjects offer sacrifices in each one and we could detect a dose of religion that was different in the two groups then we would be on our way to pinning down the effects of religion on health. If it turns out that it doesn't matter which temple you were in then...we're coming up empty on where to start.

I guess it would be nice to have some idea of safe dosages from animal testing. On the other hand getting funding to test religion on animals might be even harder than getting funding to invent a convincing god to use as a placebo in human testing.

Ruv Draba
07-22-2009, 08:20 PM
I guess it would be nice to have some idea of safe dosages from animal testing. On the other hand getting funding to test religion on animals might be even harder than getting funding to invent a convincing god to use as a placebo in human testing.By now I think there's plenty of statistical evidence to show that human religions are pretty unhealthy for animals. Animal healings don't feature much in religious lore, while animal sacrifice, curses, blame-shifting, disease-shifting are rife, not to mention using animal bits for spells. Even the sacred animals don't get such a great deal. For every cat favoured by Bast, there are probably dozens more being thrown live into boiling water to make magic mojo bones.

In terms of inventing a placebo-god as control, I wouldn't go to the effort. All that mythology and custom to build up... plus you'd need to find a congregation indifferent in prayer, yet dedicated enough to turn up to regular services (perhaps scour the bingo halls?)

A more efficient alternative might be to rent out faith from a religion who are really only in it for the tax breaks anyway. I won't name names, but I suspect you might get interest from a few televangelists. Alternatively, you could try using a Real Deity as a placebo and only get excommunicates, apostates and the Irretrievably Damned to do the praying. I suspect that there'd be no shortage of gay, divorced, and birth-control-using Catholics say, who'd love to find a practical use for their abundant yet unwelcome faith. There'd be no dearth of female Catholic priests to lead them inappropriately too.

Higgins
07-22-2009, 08:36 PM
By now I think there's plenty of statistical evidence to show that human religions are pretty unhealthy for animals. Animal healings don't feature much in religious lore, while animal sacrifice, curses, blame-shifting, disease-shifting are rife, not to mention using animal bits for spells. Even the sacred animals don't get such a great deal. For every cat favoured by Bast, there are probably dozens more being thrown live into boiling water to make magic mojo bones.

In terms of inventing a placebo-god as control, I wouldn't go to the effort. All that mythology and custom to build up... plus you'd need to find a congregation indifferent in prayer, yet dedicated enough to turn up to regular services (perhaps scour the bingo halls?)

A more efficient alternative might be to rent out faith from a religion who are really only in it for the tax breaks anyway. I won't name names, but I suspect you might get interest from a few televangelists. Alternatively, you could try using a Real Deity as a placebo and only get excommunicates, apostates and the Irretrievably Damned to do the praying. I suspect that there'd be no shortage of gay, divorced, and birth-control-using Catholics say, who'd love to find a practical use for their abundant yet unwelcome faith. There'd be no dearth of female Catholic priests to lead them inappropriately too.

You're assuming prayer gives a significant dosage. Historically there's no evidence of that. On the other hand, unprotected exposure to the Ark of the Covenant is instantly lethal -- a very high dose of religion. Of course it might be that spending the night in the Temple of Dagon among the Philistines might make any Ark lethal...all the more so when it gets lose under its own power. I suppose you could make an Animal Covenant Ark (but remember Dagon is a Fish god so maybe mammals are more likely to metabolize religion in lethal amounts). All-in-all starting from a lethal dose and working back to a detectable but not dangerous dose seems like a better approach. At least you have a baseline. Constructing say 20,000 different Arks and leaving them each overnight in the Temple of Dagon and then exposing mammals of different sizes at different distances should give you some idea of how to get a safe and controlled dose of religion. And perhaps there's some kind of shielding. Maybe prayer actually acts more like a shield than a dose enhancer for example.

Ruv Draba
07-22-2009, 09:28 PM
I suppose that there's some evidence of prayer as shielding. Passover, for example (again, healthier for humans than lambs, say). The example of Lot's wife suggests too that physical distance isn't the only factor -- orientation matters too. Australian soldiers used to know how to properly shield themselves from cataclysmic events... you have your back to the blast (http://fr.truveo.com/Backs-to-the-Blast-an-Australian-Nuclear-Story/id/2872730201) until after the hot wind blows over you. Then the worst you get is sunburn. Sadly, Mrs Lot didn't have their training.

johnnysannie
07-22-2009, 10:35 PM
[QUOTE=Ruv Draba;3835732]. I suspect that there'd be no shortage of gay, divorced, and birth-control-using Catholics say, who'd love to find a practical use for their abundant yet unwelcome faith. QUOTE]

Actually out here in the real live world (and even in the small town where I live) I know many Catholics who are gay or divorced or use birth control who are active Catholics. There's no blanket "you're not welcome" statement handed out to those who are any of the above.

Ruv Draba
07-23-2009, 02:46 AM
Actually out here in the real live world (and even in the small town where I live) I know many Catholics who are gay or divorced or use birth control who are active Catholics. There's no blanket "you're not welcome" statement handed out to those who are any of the above.Sorry for being unclear, J-A. I wasn't talking about the real live world. I was talking about the infallible views of the Primate about what the Catholic God's preferences are. :D

In my real live world, I know two (covertly) gay Catholic priests and have numerous Catholic friends who use contraception. They're welcome in their own communities and of course in mine. And if my atheism gets me to Hell before their sexual expression does, I'll be sure and welcome them there too. ;)

Higgins
07-23-2009, 04:39 PM
Sorry for being unclear, J-A. I wasn't talking about the real live world. I was talking about the infallible views of the Primate about what the Catholic God's preferences are. :D

In my real live world, I know two (covertly) gay Catholic priests and have numerous Catholic friends who use contraception. They're welcome in their own communities and of course in mine. And if my atheism gets me to Hell before their sexual expression does, I'll be sure and welcome them there too. ;)

None of that will work in a decent protocol. I'd like to know how you expect to measure the health side of "alive after you are dead" (is that a health issue?) and "tormented forever" (very low quality of life, but you live after you are dead forever -- could be healthy, its hard to say).

I suppose one question is:

Which person seems more threatening:

A) one that says "I'm going to punch you in the nose."
b) one that says "I'm going to beat you up after you are dead."

A seems like a health issue of some kind for you, B seems like a problem for those individuals that take out their aggression only after those triggering the aggression are dead.

Ruv Draba
07-24-2009, 02:47 PM
None of that will work in a decent protocol. I'd like to know how you expect to measure the health side of "alive after you are dead" (is that a health issue?) and "tormented forever" (very low quality of life, but you live after you are dead forever -- could be healthy, its hard to say).I think an economist would have an answer for this... I believe he'd create a Futility function F and calibrate it against all our Pointless and Disagreeable experiences, like so:

F(1 hr of Leonard Cohen) = 43
F(1 hr of Leonard Cohen tribute artist) = 44
F(1 hr of Cher with another facelift) = 65
F(A full rerun of I Love Lucy) = 247.

We can thus rate the Pointlessness and Disagreeability of Everything on a rational scale.

Then it's a matter of seeking to minimise the Futility function against the Utterly Unknown Yet Still Conceivable using Pascal's Other Wager: that (for example) the Probability of F(Nasty Afterlife) > F(Being stuck in a nuclear bunker with Ann Coulter, eating baked beans and rollmops while watching Dance Your Ass Off for X hours) approaches zero as X tends towards 1.

It's all Utterly Scientific, I promise you.

Higgins
07-24-2009, 04:47 PM
I think an economist would have an answer for this... I believe he'd create a Futility function F and calibrate it against all our Pointless and Disagreeable experiences, like so:

F(1 hr of Leonard Cohen) = 43
F(1 hr of Leonard Cohen tribute artist) = 44
F(1 hr of Cher with another facelift) = 65
F(A full rerun of I Love Lucy) = 247.

We can thus rate the Pointlessness and Disagreeability of Everything on a rational scale.

Then it's a matter of seeking to minimise the Futility function against the Utterly Unknown Yet Still Conceivable using Pascal's Other Wager: that (for example) the Probability of F(Nasty Afterlife) > F(Being stuck in a nuclear bunker with Ann Coulter, eating baked beans and rollmops while watching Dance Your Ass Off for X hours) approaches zero as X tends towards 1.

It's all Utterly Scientific, I promise you.

There is a Quality of life scale that runs from 0 (dead) to 1 (fine and dandy)...negative values are allowed for things that are worse than being dead. But a broken wrist puts you at .98 and a broken hip puts you at .6

And it is Health Economists who use the scale.

orangejuice
12-07-2009, 02:52 PM
I'm coming late in on the discussion, sorry.

I think it is 'good for your health', emotionally, mentally, and that probably overlaps to physically, for example, if what you believe encourages you to take care of your body. I think it grounds you, helps you get through the day, gives you meaning and purpose.

However, if a religion is harmful- I suppose if it's more of a 'cult' than an actual religion, for example, one that encourages you to abandon family and friends, isolate yourself, one that makes you feel threatened, pressured or stupid, one that requires you to hand over your entire life savings- then I don't think it's good for your health.

People will disagree with this, but hey, just my two cents worth. :)

Rhys Cordelle
12-08-2009, 02:30 AM
A study of 21,000 adults showed that persons who never attended any religious exercises at all had a 19-fold higher risk of death over the 8 year period of the study.

19-fold? How can that possibly be true?


With regards to the aggressive health care when they're on deaths door, I think that might have a lot to do with religious views on suicide and euthanasia. That if you don't shove a feeding tube down this old womans throat then you're ending her life

ChristineR
12-08-2009, 03:00 AM
19-fold? How can that possibly be true?


With regards to the aggressive health care when they're on deaths door, I think that might have a lot to do with religious views on suicide and euthanasia. That if you don't shove a feeding tube down this old womans throat then you're ending her life

Is this the 1972 study that's been completely discredited? I found one from 2008 that got 20% fewer deaths in the attending group.

The problem with the earlier study (and all the later ones that show the same thing) is that they neglected to account for people who wanted to go to church but who were just too sick to get out of the house. When the study was redone correcting for sick people, there was no positive effect. Oddly enough, this doesn't keep people from repeating the same mistakes.

The real problem here is that you have to follow people for quite some time to get a significant number of deaths, and a small number of ill people can really trash the results.

There's also plenty of evidence that people who have strong social networks are healthier, which is really just common sense--if you don't have anyone to drive you to the doctor, you may be in trouble. But I've yet to see a study that accounts for the sick people and compares social non-church attenders to social church attenders, and shows any sort of correlation between health and church attendance (outside of its function as a social activity).

Cassiopeia
01-16-2010, 09:32 AM
In 1994, during a visit to the ER because my mother couldn't breath, (asthmatic and had pneumonia) after drawing an abnormal looking fluid from her lungs so she could breath, they biopsied it to find cancer cells floating in the fluid of her lungs. A CAT scan revealed she had two tumors on one of her ovaries.

She was scheduled for surgery 36 hours later and I flew out to see her. The surgery was short. They knew the cancer had spread but not to the extent that they thought. The surgeon closed her up and came to us with the news that he could not operate. It was all through her abdomen as well. He said it was pressing against her colon and gave us a prognosis of 3 weeks to 3 months. When I asked him if I had time to get my family to South Dakota, he told me to leave immediately and bring them back.

He was completely convinced she had so little time left. But he didn't tell her that. I flew home, gathered up my husband and children and we drove from Utah to South Dakota. In that time, they were prepping her for Chemotherapy which I assertively complained against as I felt it torture for someone who they were sure it wouldn't work for.

I remember standing in her room, (they'd brought in a hospital bed) and was talking to her and being my light and usual supportive self when she reached over and took my arm.

"Kim Marie, I'm not done here, yet." She said.
"What do you mean?"
"Oh don't give me that look. Of all my kids, you can't hide what you know. They might tell me it's all going to be fine but I can tell they handed you my death sentence."
"Mom--"
"No, you listen. The Lord isn't done with me yet. He's got way more work for me to do and I'm going to beat this. You watch." She smiled and winked at me in her mid-western way. "I believe and so should you."

Her doctors and nurses called my mom the "Miracle Lady". Her GYN told her that first year when drugs and treatment that held no hope of working given her advanced stage, that he could only give the glory to God and tell her that it was her extraordinary faith that saved her life.

She told him, "I'm just too damn ornry to die and the good Lord has seen fit to give me more time to do his work."

My mother wasn't a church going woman (Presbyterian), well not after us kids were all grown. She went some before her onset but not tons. She just had a firm belief that God doesn't give us more than we can handle and so in her trusting, child like faith, she figured, it would all be okay if she hung in there and fought. It was brutal.

I used to call her that first month, every day, sometimes three times day and this was before free long distance plans. We held on as hard as we could. She once told me, she would do this no matter how hard it got because maybe they'd learn something from her to help someone else the next time.



In 2008, we buried her after a long and hearty 14 year battle against all odds. Against. all. odds.

So you tell me. Faith? Science? Both?

I can tell you, my mom was a fighter but she'd never had been that strong without her unwavering faith in a loving God.

Dommo
01-16-2010, 12:40 PM
I can tell you the opposite. My mother fought just as hard and yet she died. Even when she was drugged up to the gills and so messed up she couldn't remember my name, she still fought on because she wanted to live and to see myself and my sister grow up. In the end she still died. God had nothing to do with it, for all the prayer and appeals to higher powers, and what not, she still outlasted the prognosis by a few months, but it was quick decline. My mom was a spiritual woman, and yet even all of faith and effort eventually didn't change the fact that the leukemia she was suffering from had effectively destroyed her marrow completely.

What's my point?

It's easy to pick and choose what we want to see. I always hear the stories of how a person's faith pulled them through, but you know what? I know a lot of faithful people who still died horrible deaths from cancer, or other ailments. It's easy to claim that God did this or God did that, when it meets our expectations for what we desire god to do. We always seem to pick the favorable things to lay upon god, and for those things that are less favorable, we try to either say it's a part of the "Plan" or it's the fault of Satan or some other bugaboo.

I'm more of a believer in the power of the will to live. When a person truly doesn't want to shuffle off the mortal coil, and deep down makes the iron willed determination to do what ever it takes to survive, that's what keeps people going. My mom hung on through agonizing marrow transplants, through constant nausea, and total agony, just so that she could spend more time with us. WE were her motivation. She had faith in an afterlife for herself, but her reason for fighting was myself and my sister.

Cassiopeia
01-16-2010, 12:52 PM
As I said, it was my mother's faith in God and that he had more in store for her that gave her the strength to fight on.

aruna
01-16-2010, 05:11 PM
I imagine that if you looked at a population that practiced Yoga intensely you would find they lived longer and better than most of mankind, even if they only have a BA and an excessive amount of cash. Anyway, that is my firm belief or at least my fond hope.
.

As someone who discovered Yoga when I was 18, I can only confirm this. The immediate effects of my practice (ie, within one month of starting) was that I stopped smoking, drinking and binge eating, and went from fat to thin in the blink of an eye.

I later moved on to the more spiritual aspects of Yoga and I am in v. good health for my age (58). The only time I've seen a doctor in the last 15 years at least was about 4 years ago -- for a wart. I also have far fewer aches and pains; never had either menstraul pains nor PMS (PMT), had very easy and quick births, and no post-partum complaints; also, no grey hairs! There's no hocus-pocus to it; the science as to "why" is sound, and has nothing to do with faith. Yoga practice, whether physical or spiritual, keeps the body supple and healthy for longer.


I can tell you the opposite. My mother fought just as hard and yet she died. Even when she was drugged up to the gills and so messed up she couldn't remember my name, she still fought on because she wanted to live and to see myself and my sister grow up. In the end she still died. God had nothing to do with it, for all the prayer and appeals to higher powers, and what not, she still outlasted the prognosis by a few months, but it was quick decline. My mom was a spiritual woman, and yet even all of faith and effort eventually didn't change the fact that the leukemia she was suffering from had effectively destroyed her marrow completely.




It's a common fallacy among the faithful to believe that because so and so prays etc etc etc God is going to heal them. That's Santa Claus thinking. Prayer should be complete submission to God's will, which can and should include death. A person who dies in that spirit will welcome death as much as he or she welcomes healing; because finally death is inevitable for everyone.

That said, I too have personally known several miraculous recoveries in people of strong spiritual practice, in a couple of cases recoveries that left the doctors baffled. And as in the case of Cass's mother, there are some who simply "know" that they are not yet going to die.